President Teodoro Obiang Plans New Equatorial Guinea Capital

Stephen Sackur, Telegraph (London), December 17, 2013

The library of the new International University of Central Africa resembles a space ship docked in a jungle clearing. This is only a small part of President Teodoro Obiang’s ambition to build an entirely new multi-billion-pound capital by 2020, to be called Oyala.

Down a new six-lane highway, dubbed the ‘Avenue of Justice’, Oyala’s first luxury hotel is taking shape at a cost of £250 million. A golf course has already been carved out of the virgin forest.

Mr Obiang himself is a frequent visitor to the construction sites, causing one university building to be moved because he disapproved of the view.

Teodoro Obiang

Teodoro Obiang

Within a decade, Oyala will house the president, the government and—according to the master plan—up to 200,000 people. The money will come from Equatorial Guinea’s 1.7 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

Where the new capital will find its inhabitants is harder to understand. The population of the entire country is only 700,000 and the vast majority live far away on the Atlantic coast.

But Oyala’s very remoteness makes it appealing to Mr Obiang. In a rare interview, he described how rebels had plotted a seaborne assault on his palace in the current capital, Bata. “We need a secure place for my government and for future governments. That’s why we have created Oyala, to guarantee the government of Equatorial Guinea,” he said.

The president’s obsession with security is rooted in his past. He came to power by toppling his own uncle 33 years ago. Critics and human rights activists are invited to reflect on their disloyalty in Malabo’s Black Beach prison.

Many opponents have been accused of conspiring with foreign powers to bring down the government. The failed coup attempt led by Simon Mann, the British mercenary, in 2004 fuelled Mr Obiang’s paranoia, particularly as Sir Mark Thatcher, the son of the former prime minister, admitted to providing some of the funding.

“That coup attempt was organised by certain powers—we know all about it,” said Mr Obiang. “Margaret Thatcher’s son was involved. Also other well-known personalities. It is not possible that it was organised in Spain, London, South Africa and in the United States without the knowledge of the security services in those countries.”

Relations between Mr Obiang and Western governments remain complicated. They want access to his oil wealth, without appearing to endorse his regime. For his part, the President is particularly vexed by legal action against his eldest son and likely successor, Teodorin, in France and the US.

French investigators have seized a Paris mansion and 12 luxury cars belonging to Teodorin. The US is trying to confiscate a home in Malibu, a private jet and Michael Jackson memorabilia worth two million dollars.

The US Department of Justice alleges that Teodorin Obiang, who was recently appointed Vice-President, diverted tens of millions of dollars of state revenues into personal accounts.

But Mr Obiang defended his son. “The process in Paris is a farce, a political set-up,” he said. “They are accusing my son of having illegally acquired these things but they have not sent a commission to this country to make inquiries. No one steals here.”

A five-minute drive from the presidential palace provides ample evidence that Equatorial Guinea’s oil riches are not benefiting most of its people. A baker in a ramshackle neighbourhood of tin-roofed shacks said: “We don’t have clean water, and we don’t have any sanitation.”

A youth in his twenties allowed anger to overcome caution: “The president and his family are nothing but thieves,” he said. “Yes, people are frightened, but one day there will be an explosion here’.”

For now Mr Obiang appears in complete control. In the last presidential election, he won 97 per cent of the vote. “It’s a police state, just like North Korea,” said Placido Mico, the only opposition MP in parliament. “They use the oil money as a weapon against democracy.”

Having seized power in 1979, Mr Obiang, 70, is now the longest-serving leader in Africa—and the longest-serving head of state in the world, aside from monarchs. Does he intend to stay for long enough to transfer his government to the new jungle capital? “It depends on the will of the people,” he replied. “When the people want something we should not disappoint them.”

Stephen Sackur’s reports from Equatorial Guinea will be on the BBC’s ‘HARDtalk’ and ‘Ten o’clock News’.

Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • GM (Australia)

    Where will he find residents for his new capital? Perhaps he can organize a recruitment drive aimed at Afro-Americans who do not like life in today’s USA. They can be welcomed, enjoy life and maybe even prosper in a black run nation with no racism.

    • Some Guy

      It’s for his 5,000 wives, 75,000 children and 120,000 grand children.

    • Anders

      A stirling idea GM, but the President may require them to work for a living.

    • convairXF92

      >prosper in a black run nation with no racism
      Possibly so, especially since the average IQ in Equatorial Guinea is 59, limiting competition from the natives.

      Maybe a good spot for a US federal offshore penitentiary? Inmates would have the option of staying there after release.

    • Vanessa

      I think at this point, I would be willing to pay a small tax on my earned income for reparations to blacks. The only condition must be that they return to Africa, I don’t care where. They can buy some small plot in Gabon with their money. Think of it as a long-term investment with a somewhat high startup cost. Reparations will pay for itself 10-fold in less than a decade, I guarantee.

      • Nathanwartooth

        If all Blacks and Mexican invaders mysteriously disappeared from the USA not a single person would be talking about China becoming the new world power.

        It would be obvious who would still be a super power for decades to come…

  • dukem1

    1. Michael Jackson memorabilia.
    2. No one steals here.
    3. If some white guy – whenever, way back – had not figured out that our planet had an “equator”, this retard would not even have a name for his country.

    Good God a’mighty!!!

    • Vanessa

      That is hilarious. But true!

  • The__Bobster

    Down a new six-lane highway, dubbed the ‘Avenue of Justice’, Oyala’s
    first luxury hotel is taking shape at a cost of £250 million. A golf
    course has already been carved out of the virgin forest.

    Without oil reserves, the people in this country and a lot of others would be reduced to living in tents or dung huts.

    • StillModerated

      Here’s a snapshot of an upscale residential nighborhood

      • Sal

        Where does it say that that’s an upscale neighborhood? Not saying you’re wrong, just wondering.

        According to Wiki, the average GDP of the country is like $30K, so it doesn’t sound as poor as the article describes.

  • Simonetta

    Wasn’t Frederick Forsyth’s book ‘The Dogs of War’ written about this place? Great book-great movie. Christopher Walken as the merciless mercenary blasting away the whole country’s army (the presidential guard) for a consortium of English/European mining corporations. The thinking man’s Sylvester Stallone movie.

    • StillModerated

      I believe you’re right. It was in the book review, and there was the Simon Mann incident a couple of years ago.

  • dhs

    This is a perfect example of the African brain in action: using wealth for display rather than investment. Instead of investing in infrastructure, schools, and health care, he is investing in self promotion. This thinking was effective in Africa for many hundreds of generations, but disastrous in the modern technological world.

    • bigone4u

      In my experience the same is true of the Mexican brain.

    • OlderWoman

      Like Beyonce and Jay-z. Blacks like wealth. They like bling, nonsensical things. Typical of blacks the world over.

  • MekongDelta69

    Does this article say, “President Teodoro Obama“?

    Just wondering…

    • Unperson

      I would have absolutely nothing against Barack Hussein Obama if he were the President of an African nation rather than the USA. If he’d won the presidency in, say, his father’s Kenya, he’d be just another figure on the international stage that you’d see at the occasional UN gathering… and not The Most Powerful Man in the World.

      By African standards, Obama would be a very good leader — due to his white half he’s at least more intelligent than Mandela, Zuma, Mugabe, or Amin. By American standards — due to his black half — he’s a catastrophe.

  • bigone4u

    This article describes the future of an America in which “people of color” rule. The future Amerika will be a place of ostentatious behavior and spending, much like as practiced by Michelle and Barack Obama. It will be a place of corruption. A place of great inequality of wealth. A place of lies. A place where ignoramouses rule and flourish. A place of sexual degeneracy. A place where whites and Christians will be persecuted into extinction. A place where torture of humans and animals is the norm. A place of dusty roads. A place of crashing aircraft. A place of no jobs. A place where food riots are common. A place where disease is rampant. A place where water is unclean. A place where forests have been cut for firewood because the people have no knowlege of any other energy source. A place of smoky skies. A place of ruins. A place with no libraries. A place with no art other than graffitti. A place in which drums are used for communication. A place of few autos, no trains, and many guns. A place of witch doctors. A place of death. A place of the souless dead pretending they live. A place devolving into the stone age.
    Forget Blade Runner and Star Trek. Forget even Planet of the Apes. The future Amerika is not science marches ahead. The future of Amerika is found in the DNA of the African.

    • 549106

      I’m glad you offer plenty of examples but absolutely no explanations. Maybe you should try your hand at writing sci-fi, you don’t seem to understand the basics of politics and rhetoric.

      • IstvanIN

        He has to explain what? That when blacks run things ruin is the order of the day? Does he need to explain that we need air to breathe?

      • Nathanwartooth

        I would recommend looking at countries in Africa and any city ruled by Blacks in the USA.

        Try Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Cleveland, New Orleans, etc.

      • Ed_NY

        There was nothing rhetorical about his post. He only stated the truth!

    • Amerika will be…..Detroit.

    • Ed_NY

      You were way too kind Bigone4u, it will be much worse.

  • OlderWoman

    ‘…Michael Jackson memorabilia.’

    The black mind astounds me. All blacks like bling, cheap looking bling. They’ll pay top dollar for trashy, but expensive bling. This is why I am opposed any financial help for Africa. All these charities who rush in to help them are only making the situation worse.

  • Zapp Branigan

    The “Head Chief Syndrome” always pops up when a negro is in charge, regardless of the management level.

    • Ed_NY

      And the HNIC is never as smart as he thinks he is.

  • Flossie

    “Critics and human rights activists are invited to reflect on their disloyalty in Malabo’s Black Beach prison.” “A golf course has already been carved out of the virgin forest.” “The library . . . resembles a space ship docked in a jungle clearing.” It’s like something you’d read in an Evelyn Waugh novel.